Janet Lopez got a preview of her future job as a member of the Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees on Thursday – discussing the school’s budget and getting a glimpse of the future that will be guided by a new strategic plan.
But as of now, she’s still only a prospective trustee, nominated by former Gov. John Hickenlooper in his last month in office. Gov. Jared Polis has reserved the right to review Hickenlooper’s appointees to boards and commissions made in his last month in office.
Also, Lopez, 42, has yet to receive state Senate confirmation. If confirmed, she will replace Nora Jacquez, whose term on the Board of Trustees expired in 2018.
Lopez said Thursday she has talked with members of the Polis’ administration, and she anticipates no objections from the new administration to her serving on FLC’s board. She expects a state Senate confirmation hearing in the next month.
Her status allowed her to participate in Board of Trustee committee meetings held Thursday on campus, but she cannot yet vote on official actions until she is confirmed.
“I don’t believe there are many silver bullets in life, but a college degree is one – especially for students who haven’t been served well, and that’s a particular focus of Fort Lewis,” Lopez said Thursday.
Lopez is senior program officer for the Rose Community Foundation in Denver and oversees grant-making for early education and kindergarten through 12th-grade education.
She shares an interest central to FLC’s mission – providing access to higher education to underserved minority groups. Early in her career she worked as a college coach with the Daniels Fund helping students of color with their college searches and applications.
Lopez holds a doctorate in educational policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in educational policy from the University of Colorado Boulder. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southwestern University, a liberal arts school in Austin, Texas.
Her doctoral dissertation was about undocumented Latinos’ efforts to enter colleges and universities.
Lopez said her aunt, Jo Martinez, is a lifelong resident of Durango and several cousins have attended FLC.
Lopez lives in Mount View, just west of Denver, with her husband, Doug Vilsack, and her 4-year-old son, Cassin.